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Plan for airport-area condo towers heads back to Newport commission after year-long delay

Plan for airport-area condo towers heads back to Newport commission after year-long delay
A rendering shows the proposed Koll Center Residences condominium towers at Von Karman Avenue and Birch Street in Newport Beach. (File Illustration)

After a year of delays, the proposed Koll Center Residences condominium and retail project is going back before the Newport Beach Planning Commission on Thursday.

Commissioners will hear from representatives of developer Shopoff Realty Investments during a study session on the controversial project, a proposed “urban village” in what is currently an office park near John Wayne Airport.

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Koll Center Residences would group 260 luxury condos in three 13-story buildings and would include 3,000 square feet of ground-floor retail space, a parking garage and a 1.17-acre public park.

Area residents have long been split on the high-density project. The city twice extended the public review period after it released a draft environmental impact report in September 2017, and even after that, residents continued to submit comments supporting and opposing the towers. The city added to the official record about 550 written comments — more than 700 pages — collected between November 2017 and this month.

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The Planning Commission and Shopoff scheduled a study session in January 2018 but cut off the presentation after learning that one of the commissioners had a potential conflict of interest. Four of the seven commissioners ultimately declared conflicts, which normally would have led them to recuse themselves from discussions and votes. But that would have left only three commissioners to hear the item when four are required to hold a vote. The Planning Commission must vote on the proposal before the City Council can make its decision.

The four commissioners who declared conflicts randomly drew playing cards in September to determine who would hear the proposal. The item was again delayed in October after one of the non-conflicted commissioners resigned for health reasons and the city sought a replacement to reestablish a quorum.

With enough commissioners again available to hear the matter, the developer will resume its talks. Nothing about Shopoff’s presentation has changed since the halted January 2018 meeting, the city said.

Thursday’s meeting will start at 4:30 p.m. at City Hall, 100 Civic Center Drive.

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